Frontispiece to Petrucci’s Odhecaton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
OK, I admit it I have a passion for musical scores notes. It comes second only to my Piano keyboard obsession. That’s why I was very happy to browse through IMSLP, the International Music Score Library Project. The IMSLP is a Wiki project and was launched on February 2006. IMSLP consists mainly of scans of out of copyright musical scores. There are also some MP3 tracks to listen to and always an Amazon link to the relevant piece.
IMSLP is also known as the Petrucci Music Library. Ottaviano Petrucci was an Italian publisher who lived between the 15th and 16th centuries. Petrucci was one of the first music sheet publishers.
The wealth of material is amazing. You can find the complete Bach public domain works as well as all of the public domain works of Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Corelli, Debussy, Fauré, Handel,Palestrina, Ravel, Schubert, Schumann, Sibelius and many others. Some like Mozart and Liszt, have most of their works downloaded. According to the site as of Aug 2011, IMSLP has 63,243 works, 225,387 scores, 21,976 recordings, 7,769 composers, and 194 performers. I don’t play any instrument myself but this wealth of scores is really inspiring. It “tickles” me to start those piano lessons I’m postponing for so long…
Copyrights are a very central issue when running a project like IMSLP. In fact the site was shut down for almost a year (Oct 2007 to June 2008) because of copyright claims. Since its reopening IMSLP complies with the very strict copyright rules of Canada, US and the EU. The site makes sure that its users will not accidentally infringe any law. No wonder that Edward W. Guo, the creator and leader of IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library is a graduate of the New England Conservatory (B.M. in composition, 2008) and Harvard Law School (J.D., 2012)…
The project also allows contemporary composers to publish their works under the Creative Commons license. By this it helps them gain recognition and acceptance.
The main target audience of IMSLP is obviously musicians. Let me know how it affected you as musicians, armatures or listeners.